Nov 12, 2012
Author: Pete DeKay
It sounds like it was a stressful weekend for the pro-windsurfing contingent at the ISAF meetings in Ireland. On Friday a vote resulted in upholding the decision to keep kiteboarding in for the 2016 Olympics... but on Saturday a vote of the ISAF's general assembly overturned this decision putting windsurfing back in for the 2016 Games at the expense of kiteboarding. I hope in the future that windsurfing will not be pitted against kiteboarding and that maybe the two very different classes can work together to be an exciting beach lifestyle class at the Olympics!
According to Rory Ramsden (the chief operating officer for Olympic Windsurfing) on rsxclass.com:
Never have so many fought for so long and so successfully to get a class re-instated on the Olympic sailing programme. This team effort involved people all over the world on many different levels and in many different ways. The fact that the ISAF General Assembly voted strongly in support of windsurfing and the RS:X for Rio 2016, is testament to the passion and determination of all these people. You helped to keep the story alive during the long six month fight.
This morning the dreams of thousands of young windsurfers are reinvigorated. Their chance to race in the Olympic sailing regatta is restored.
Thanks for your support and your constant belief that we could do what no other part of the sailing community has achieved in the past.
This battle was fought using all the levers available. 31,254 people signed the online petition. 20,000 joined the "Appeal" page on Facebook (Thanks Adam). 14,342 followed the 'Vote Windsurfing' Facebook page. And countless others worked tirelessly in the background to lobby MNAs and turn the groundswell of opinion into a tsunami of voters at the General Assembly.
This was a truly Olympic effort and just like as in any boat race only one can win. We know how the world of kite board racing must feel for it is how we felt on May 5th. The disappointment must be palpable. They are gracious in a defeat and that will only strengthen their determination to bid again for Olympic selection.
We will do our best to help them in that endeavour right up to where the line is drawn. The line that may never be crossed under any circumstances. Windsurfing will fight and fight hard to stay in the Olympic sailing programme when threatened.
In our heart of hearts, we both know that this was a fight neither of us wanted. A compromise would have weakened the appeal of both sports to small and emerging nations round the world. Now is the time for both windsurfing and kite to take stock.
Windsurfing as a global sport slept walked into this nightmare. No one really believed that the men and women's windsurfing events would be dropped. The fact that it was woke a lot of people up. We can never again be caught napping.
Kiteboarding ran a skilful campaign. They focused on their strengths and made a strong presentation but were ultimately found wanting because the discipline of kite board racing is still new and their equipment is not fully developed. Four more years will see big changes.
As for me, it was always my intention to step down after the RS:X was selected for Rio 2016. I never expected that to be so difficult so now is the time, after almost 30 years since I ran my first IMCO European Championships in Guernsey, Channel islands to stand back and let a new generation take the sport forward to Rio and on to who knows where in 2020 and beyond.
Good luck and keep the dream that we have all share alive,